The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Doug Beazley

Competition law

Competition Bureau takes baby steps on its Big Data learning curve

By Doug Beazley December 20, 2017 20 December 2017

Competition Bureau takes baby steps on its Big Data learning curve

 

Every conversation about competition law and big data seems to start with Google.

The internet behemoth’s parent company took in $78.65 billion over the past three quarters as its stock hit all-time highs. So it probably didn’t break a sweat when the European Union slapped it with a record US$2.7 billion antitrust fine in June — punishment for abusing its dominance of the search engine market by placing its own shopping services above those of competitors on its web search queues.

In the U.S., Missouri recently signalled what could be the start of an antitrust push against Google with an investigation into whether the company has manipulated search results to frustrate competition. And Canada? In April 2016, the Competition Bureau wrapped up an abuse-of-dominance investigation of Google with a report that largely absolved the company of misdeeds (although it did get Google to suspend the use of anti-competitive clauses in its advertising terms and conditions for five years).

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Privacy

Unwarranted: The search and seizure of text messages in Canada

By Doug Beazley December 15, 2017 15 December 2017

Unwarranted: The search and seizure of text messages in Canada

 

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada dropped a ruling that (depending on where you sit) either affirms the privacy rights of people taking part in digital conversations — or makes the work of police and prosecutors a whole lot harder.

In 2012, Toronto police executed a series of search warrants at four addresses related to a gun trafficking investigation. Three of the addresses linked back to one Andrew Winchester; one linked back to Nour Marakah. When police executed the warrants they seized the suspects’ phones — Marakah’s BlackBerry and Winchester’s iPhone. A subsequent search of the phones found text messages that police said implicated both men in gun trafficking.

Marakah was convicted of several firearms offences, largely on the strength of the texts he had exchanged with Winchester — texts that were pulled from Winchester’s phone. Marakah challenged the search and seizure of Winchester’s phone under Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the section that guarantees against “unreasonable search and seizure.”

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Cover story

Decolonizing the Indian Act

By Doug Beazley December 8, 2017 8 December 2017

Decolonizing the Indian Act

 

Senator Lynn Beyak was already a controversial figure after her peculiar (and widely condemned) public defence of residential schools back in March. Her follow-up statement in September suggested she’d forgotten the first rule of political communications: When you’re in a hole,stop digging.

“Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties,” Beyak wrote on her Senate website. “None of us are leaving, so let's stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share.”

That a Canadian senator apparently believed status Indigenous Canadians are not citizens of Canada isn’t all that surprising – not when you remember that the law defining the First Nations-Crown relationship is 141 years old and was crafted not to support autonomous Indigenous communities, but to wipe out their culture.

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The Court

The Court after McLachlin

By Doug Beazley September 15, 2017 15 September 2017

The Court after McLachlin

 

It is difficult to imagine a Supreme Court of Canada without Beverley McLachlin. For 17 years, she was the court’s rudder, steadying
it in choppy legal waters. So what happens after she’s gone?

Appointed to the court by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as a puisne justice in 1989 and elevated to the top job 11 years later, Beverley McLachlin is the longest-serving chief justice in the court’s history. She led it through a period of consolidation and refinement of Charter law following the “dawn period” under Chief Justices Brian Dickson and Antonio Lamer.

The early years of Supreme Court interpretations of Charter law were action-packed, marked by many split decisions and an activist tone. McLachlin herself – appointed to the bench just a year before Justice Dickson’s retirement – described her approach to Charter law as one of “subtle interpretations” of the broad directions set during the Dickson and Lamer eras. She proved herself adept at stick-handling unanimous decisions on fraught subjects, from physician-assisted dying to maximum trial lengths – a talent that was nurtured during her long tenure on the court.

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NAFTA negotiations

Does Canada’s NAFTA wish list contain key to compromise?

By Doug Beazley August 25, 2017 25 August 2017

Does Canada’s NAFTA wish list contain key to compromise?


Every new article about the negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement ought to start the way this one does — by admitting that, really, nobody knows anything.

During a rally speech on August 22, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened — again — to tear the agreement up. That was just days after a first round of talks in Washington, D.C. wrapped up with all three NAFTA negotiating teams still very far apart on the key files, such as rules-of-origin and ‘Buy American’.

So the NAFTA talks could end in a deal or in a messy political confrontation between the President and a reluctant Congress over whether he can cancel NAFTA on his own. Oddly enough, one of the most controversial sections in the agreement is offering a glimmer of hope for a compromise.

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